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Family Dinners: The Key to Happiness?

Family Dinners: The Key to Happiness?


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Researchers found that the more frequently a family ate dinner together, the better teens' emotional well-being ranked

Pixland/Thinkstock

Family Meal

Here's another reason to join in on The Daily Meal's Family Dinners: researchers have found that teenagers whose families often have dinner together tend to be happier, Fast Company reports. And it's probably not just the menu.

Researchers at McGill University surveyed 26,069 adolescents from 11 to 15 years old (you know, the bratty years) who participated in the Canadian Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children study. They found, across the board, that family meals often had a positive effect on the mental health of subjects, regardless of gender, age, or wealth.

"We were surprised to find such consistent effects on every outcome we studied," McGill professor Frank Elgar said in a press release. "From having no dinners together to eating together seven nights a week, each additional dinner related to significantly better mental health."

The researchers gathered that the increased emotional well-being and prosocial behavior can be partially attributed to an increased efficiency in communication between parents and kids. The more parents and kids broke bread together, the fewer emotional and behavioral problems the kids had, Elgar notes, and the more trusting and helpful they were with others. We can only imagine what bringing kids into the kitchen will do.


How to Cook Dinner Every Night

Do you cook dinner every night? If you do, you know it can be a grind.

Not only do you have to figure that out, you have to stay motivated to cook. You also need to be creative, organized, and feel appreciated.

Perhaps the latter part is the key. So a better question might be, are you happy as the family cook? And if not, how can you be happier in this role?

As a working mom, I’ve had to juggle job responsibilities and the weeknight dinner nearly every night. In this article, I’ll cover the six main strategies I used to make dinner for the family easier and happier for me.


1. FAMILY DINNERS MEAN BETTER FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS

Eating meals together has the potential to strengthen family bonds as it provides a daily time for the whole family to be together. For younger children, routine family meals can provide a sense of security and a feeling of belonging in the family. Older children and teenagers, too, prefer eating together as a family. In a recent Columbia University study, 71% of teenagers said they consider talking, catching-up, and spending time with family members as the best part of family dinners.


7 Habits of Highly Effective Family Dinners

Home cooking may be the solution to the massive health crisis we face. But how do busy families make family dinners actually happen? And when you do make time to cook, how do you get your kids to eat what you make? The solution is simple - and it starts with one new food.

Countless studies point to the benefits of gathering your family around the table for a home cooked meal - better test scores, less risky behavior in teens, healthier kids, and stronger family connections. But the reality of actually making family dinner happen on a regular basis, without food fights, is a challenge for many parents.

In my experience raising two young children, and helping thousands of others, I’ve discovered a common thread. In my new book, The 52 New Foods Challenge, I share the seven core principles - habits - that lead to highly effective family dinners. The secret is to think like a kindergartener and to start by making it a game.


5 Light Summer Dinners

Couscous is what I call "everyday exotic" &mdash and a busy girl's dream. The quick-cooking, tiny granules of durum wheat are available in every supermarket and can host dozens of different flavors. I detour to Morocco for the exotic, no-cook combo of pistachios, dried apricots and cool mint. If you don't have, or don't want to spend the money on saffron, skip it. You'll still get fabulous flavor after only five minutes of stovetop time.

Get the recipe here.

The key to this low-maintenance, one-pan dinner is buying shelled, pre-cooked shrimp. A three-minute sautée of the olive oil, garlic and white beans is all that stands between you and a hearty, Spanish-accented meal.

Get the recipe here.

Quinoa, once the superfood of the Mayans, is my favorite rice substitute for super family dinners. While the protein and amino acid-packed seeds simmer (yes, quinoa is a seed, not a grain!), I chop my veggies and whisk together the citrusy vinaigrette. In less than 30 minutes, I have a complete, well-rounded meal on the table.

Get the recipe here.

Ratatouille is more than a great Pixar movie &mdash it's the light, healthy, French way to showcase summer's brightest, most flavorful veggies. Eggplant, zucchini, squash and red peppers hang out in a hearty-healthy olive oil for 20 minutes while you cook the rigatoni. A shower of grated parmesan on the finished dish and dinner is served. My favorite part? Cool ratatouille rigatoni the next day for lunch.


Family Dinners: The Key to Happiness? - Recipes

12 Healthy Crockpot Freezer Meals to Make in May

*This post has been updated for 2021

Spring weather has finally made its way to Pittsburgh. Yay!! I’m trying to get my kids outside as much as possible and I’m almost done going through all of our winter clothes, boots, etc. I even got motivated on Monday and prepped 12 freezer meals so we can play outside after school, and drive our older kids to after-school activities, and not have to worry about dinner.

Read More

12 Healthy Crockpot Freezer Meals to Make in April

Spring is right around the corner and I’ve never been so desperate to get outside. Being stuck at home with five little kids is exhausting. Between cleaning and getting everyone dressed and fed, the entire day slips away without getting anything accomplished.

Unfortunately, all of my freezers are empty too. We ate the healthy stir fry “packs” that I froze for the crockpot/Instant Pot (the honey garlic chicken and snow peas was my favorite) and trying to figure out what to make for dinner tonight is stressful enough, let alone making more freezer meals. The good news is that I was able to reuse some of our favorite recipes from last year to come up with a plan for this month.


Read More


Kevin James' Key to Happiness

Kevin James thought he'd be happy when his dreams came true, but what happened when his dreams changed?

by Kevin James
From - Posted on Feb 26, 2018

“I’m happy.” Anyone who has ever existed tries to not only say these two words but actually mean them. We all have the same basic goal: to live a happy life. I always thought that my happiness depended solely on fulfilling my dreams. “Then I’ll be happy.” Which is true—as long as you allow your dreams to change.

When I was growing up on Long Island, my childhood wasn’t perfect, but it was filled with happy memories. Of course, church on Sunday was mandatory—St. James in Setauket. I remember Little League, ice cream trucks and Sunday dinners with family. Not just the immediate family—the entire family. And the thing I remember most about those dinners was how much we laughed.

Whether my brother and I were doing impressions of people we knew, or my uncle was telling funny stories, it just felt like, as far as comedy went, my family “got it.”

Did we think we were stand-up comedians in training? No, we were just having fun. But looking back, there was one experience that created a spark for me. It was the moment I saw Robert Klein on HBO, standing on a stage, microphone in hand, making an audience of strangers laugh (and my family howl). At that moment, I knew I was seeing something special.

Here was the problem: I wasn’t Robert Klein. I didn’t have the life experiences he had and, on top of that, unless I was with friends or family, I was extremely shy. So stand-up comedy wasn’t really an option for me. In fact, it wasn’t even a dream.

But sports were. I was all about sports. To play professional football, that was my dream. I thought, if I could just make it to the NFL, then I’d be happy. As it turns out, I was a pretty good running back at the high school level—going pro, I thought, shouldn’t be a problem. All I would need were good grades, so I could get a scholarship to a Division I college.

But my grades weren’t the best. And it wasn’t just because of a lack of intelligence. How do I put this? I had some attendance issues. Because of this, no big schools would take me. I had to get my grades up, so I went to Cortland State University, which was Division III. Oof. And I didn’t get much playing time there. Let’s just say, if you’re trying to go pro and you can’t dominate Division III football. it might be time to try out a new dream.

My modified plan was to finish college and get my degree in sports management (which, unless you’re the manager of a sports team, I’m still not sure what that means). Problem was, I still didn’t like going to class. I needed only about 20 credits to graduate. A buddy of mine told me about an easy class for three credits where all I had to do was show up. It was called Public Speaking.

Okay, this may seem obvious now, but at the time I didn’t realize that in public speaking class, you actually had to speak. in front of other people. Publicly. Hence the name. This was a problem for me because, as I said before, unless I’m with friends or family, I’m shy.

When I learned that my entire grade depended on how well I did in this class, I panicked. The night before my final speech, I sat in my dorm room with sweaty palms, rehearsing over and over. I prayed, barely slept and then prayed some more. At one point, I may or may not have thrown up.

The next day, when it was finally my turn to speak in class, something crazy happened—people laughed. Not at me but with me. Just like when my brother and I did our impressions at the family dinner table. Just like Robert Klein. Well, not as much as Robert, but it was a start.

So naturally, I did exactly what any parent would want for their child: With only 17 credits left to fulfill my degree, I quit college and moved back home. New dream: If I could make people laugh for a living. then I’d be happy.

There’s something to be said for throwing caution to the wind and putting it all on the line. Night after night, I hung out at local comedy clubs and worked my act with that new dream pushing me forward. The plan was to earn enough money to quit my day job and make a career performing standup. It was a solid plan…

. And I did it for a while. But it wasn’t enough. I still needed more.

In fact, it seemed as if every time I accomplished something special and finally seemed on my way to becoming completely happy, my sights were already set on something bigger. Something even more special. I set a goal to perform my stand-up on TV. and did it. Then I thought, Well, if I could just get on The Tonight Show. then did that. If I could just get on a sitcom…Got it. If I could just act in a movie…Boom, done.

Am I grateful for all those things? Absolutely. But it was as though every time I achieved a goal that would supposedly make me happy, the goalposts moved. I was caught in a cycle. And that dream of being happy—the big overall life goal that I had set so many years earlier—felt as if it wasn’t even close.

It didn’t make sense. I was missing something. Something big. It’s amazing that it took me so long to figure out what it was.

And not just in the geographical sense. I was in Los Angeles, and I discovered that what I was missing most was Long Island. Not just the place itself, but everything that Long Island meant to me. I missed the values I’d grown up with. I missed St. James parish in Setauket and going to Mass. I missed the tree-lined service roads off the L.I.E. I missed the American flags waving on so many front porches. I missed…home.

After years of searching, and running toward a dream that I thought was special, I realized that I was running from the most special thing of all: the ordinary. Faith. Family. Home. This was the true dream.

So my wife and I made some big choices. We moved back to New York and started going to church regularly, just like I did when I was a kid. We get the family, the entire family, together on a more regular basis. I was even blessed enough to have my new TV show, Kevin Can Wait, shot on Long Island—close to everything I love.

In the end, my unfulfilled desires found rest in God, family and home, the things that are there for us with or without fame and fortune. I am grateful to Long Island in so many ways—for helping me realize my dream, for being there for me even when I went astray, for helping me reach that goal of a more firm happiness and, even more, for making the best pizza on the planet. Because, the truth is, you can’t really find a good slice in Hollywood.

Catch Kevin James in his show Kevin Can Wait on CBS Mondays at 8pm. And look for his Netflix comedy special Kevin James: Never Don’t Give Up premiering in April.

For more inspiring stories, subscribe to Guideposts magazine.


I cannot stress enough how much family dinners hinge on thinking ahead so there’s no 4 p.m. oh-crap-what’s-for-dinner panic-shopping. Spec out your meal plan on the weekend (special meal planning notepads or apps like Cook Smarts or Plan to Eat make it easier), and shop for the week, thinking about what produce will keep the longest and which nights you’re likely to be most pressed for time. Do some chopping prep on the weekend, consider batch cooking and use the slow cooker—whatever you can do to cut down on weeknight prep time.

There’s no shame in making things as easy on yourself as possible. So go ahead and buy pre-cut veggies, or stick to the same daily theme nights (really, are your kids ever going to get sick of Taco Tuesday?). And cut yourself some slack when it comes to cooking gourmet simple deconstructed meals or breakfast-for-dinner are totally legit family dinner solutions.


21 Easy Keto Dinner Recipes To Make On The Cheap For Family Dinner Tonight

These easy, keto dinner recipes make sticking to the ketogenic diet and a tight budget simple. If you&rsquove been struggling with finding healthy family dinner recipes that won&rsquot break the bank, you just hit the jackpot!

This post may contain affiliate links that help keep this content free. [Full Disclosure]

Finding a dinner recipe everyone in the family can agree on is often a challenge impossible. I get it- I&rsquom a Mom of three kids ranging from ages 7-18&hellipthe struggle is real.

I&rsquove been on the keto diet for seven years, and I&rsquove been a Mom for 18. (Being a Mom is definitely harder than counting macros.) Finding budget-friendly dinners that don&rsquot take hours or tons of special ingredients used to be a struggle for me. If you need a few tasty keto family dinners, add these to your weekly meal plan &ndash ASAP.

21 Budget-Friendly Family Favorites

Easy Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole

An easy low carb miracle dinner (with 3.6 net carbs per serving) that&rsquos 100% family-friendly, ready in 30 minutes, and tastes like everything you ever wanted in a bacon cheeseburger. FYI: It tastes better than it looks &ndash I am not a professional photographer:) Get the details here:)

Ground Beef & Cabbage Stir Fry

One of the fastest & easiest weeknight recipes from Savory Tooth shows up regularly at our table! We always take the shortcut & use packaged cabbage mix which makes it come together even faster! All that&rsquos left to do is brown the ground beef & add the scallions! Find all the details on Savory Tooth

Keto Chicken Parmesan

Quick & easy Keto Chicken Parmesan takes under 30 minutes! Chicken breasts crusted in parmesan cheese are pan fried & topped with marina and Mozzarella cheese! With only 4 net carbs per serving! Get the recipe on Low Carb with Jennifer

Keto Crockpot White Shredded Chicken Chili

This creamy shredded chicken chili cooks to perfection in your crockpot or slow cooker! All you need is around 10 minutes & a few essential ingredients like chicken, heavy cream, cream cheese, & onion-along with a few herbs if you have them! The result is a keto family dinner that allows for leftovers! Get the recipe here

Fully Loaded Burger Bowls

Burgers with toppings stuffed inside instead of on top! Think ground beef seasoned with garlic, salt, & pepper full of delicious mushrooms, cheese, and bacon with ranch & BBQ sauce! Get the recipe on Family Fresh Meals

Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken

An easy, low carb chicken dinner with chicken, balsamic vinegar, garlic, broth, and a couple of spices with 3.5 net carbs per serving. Get the details on Word To Your Mother Blog

10 Minute &ldquoNo Chop&rdquo Keto Chili

If you&rsquore looking for ways to use budget-friendly ground beef (or turkey) OR you want a super easy & delicious chili recipe this one will not disappoint the fam! This easy keto family dinner recipe come together in 15 minutes with only 2 net carbs per serving! Find all the details on I Breathe I&rsquom Hungry

One Pot Garlic Butter Chicken Thighs & Mushrooms Recipe

A low carb one-pan meal with a delicious garlic butter sauce that uses budget-friendly chicken thighs that&rsquos ready to eat in 25 minutes! Only 6 net carbs & 25 grams of protein! Get the recipe on Sweet C&rsquos

Crockpot Mississippi Pot Roast

When you need an easy keto crockpot recipe, it doesn&rsquot get any more delicious or effortless than the original Mississippi Pot Roast! This low carb lazy Sunday recipe only calls for 5 ingredients and is always a hit!

Keto Beef & Broccoli

An easy keto stir fry meal with beef & broccoli that&rsquos ready to serve in 25 minutes! Serve with cauliflower rice. Get the details on The Health Creative

Keto Cheesy Mexican Taco Skillet

Taco Night Keto Style! This recipe is perfect for a busy weeknight family meal. Ground beef, onions, peppers, jalapeños, avocados, and cilantro create a cheesy Taco Skillet that&rsquos ready to eat in 30 minutes! Get the recipe on Cast Iron Keto

Cheddar Chicken & Broccoli Casserole

Like all the best casserole recipes, this one may be even better the next night-& trust me, your kids will not complain about having leftovers! One of my favorite things about this particular recipe is that you can use frozen broccoli (which is almost always cheaper) & the top layer of crushed pork rinds that adds a homemade style & amazing crunch! Grab the recipe on Tastaholic&rsquos

Keto Low Carb Pizza Casserole

Make it a (low carb) pizza night! This easy recipe only requires 5 ingredients & you can put it together in less than 10 minutes (50 minutes total)-meaning you can have this family meal on the table faster than delivery-for A LOT less carbs & money! Get the recipe on Wholesome Yum

Baked Garlic Butter Chicken

Does it feel more like a chicken night? Take a look at this simple one pan, low carb Garlic Butter Chicken recipe that brings a 5-Star flavor to family dinner using 5 ingredients: chicken breasts, butter, minced garlic, rosemary, and shredded Italian cheese! Get the details on Diethood Low Carb Fried Cabbage with Kielbasa

One Pot Coconut Curry Shrimp

Fresh veggies, ginger, coconut milk, Greek yogurt, and shrimp create a delicious one pan family dinner in 30 minutes! This recipe contains 8 net carbs-if you want to lower that number you can leave out the snow peas & carrots. Get the details on Plating Pixels

Fabulous White Chicken Enchiladas

Starting with budget-friendly & easy shredded chicken (you can use a rotisserie chicken if you&rsquore punched for time) this easy keto recipe brings the Mexican flavor with a cream cheese-based creamy white sauce with green chiles & Monterey Jack cheese. From start to finish you are looking at 40 minutes total time & only 2.5 net carbs per enchilada! Get the details on Low Carb Maven

Keto Chicken Pizza Casserole

Your new family favorite! This Keto Chicken Pizza Casserole captures all the pizza night flavors & leaves the crust behind! And with a quick 10 minute prep time followed by 30 minutes in the oven this is a fabulous busy weeknight meal! Get the recipe on Cast Iron Keto

Keto Cheeseburger Helper

This family friendly meal is a low carb version of the traditional recipe kids adore. Swapping noodles for cabbage combined with ground beef seasoned with paprika, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and tomato paste & topped with a delicious cheese sauce this recipe contains only 3.8 net carbs (vs. 26 in the original!) Ready to serve in 45 minutes! Get the recipe on Hey Keto Mama

Low Carb Buffalo Ranch Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

Chicken breasts, turnips, red bell pepper, buffalo sauce & seasonings create an easy sheet pan dinner everyone will love! Ready in 45 minutes from start to finish with 6.6 net carbs per serving. Get the details on Keto Diet App

Keto Chili Dog Pot Pie Casserole

No, I&rsquom not kidding-this is a REAL RECIPE that hits the ball out of the park every time! This keto family dinner recipe does take a bit of prep time (make stovetop chili & a batch of low carb cheddar biscuit dough) but it is SO worth the effort! And you may have leftovers:) Get the details on Peace, Love And Low Carb

Easy Chicken Fajita Bake

Boneless chicken breasts, taco seasoning, red, green, & yellow bell peppers, red onion, olive oil & shredded cheese create a flavorful recipe that&rsquos ready in 45 minutes. Get the details on The Pinning Mama

Keto Crispy Pork & Noodle Stir Fry

Sweet, salty, crunch & chewy! This quick stir fry covers all the bases & is ready to serve in 18 minutes! Get the recipe on I Breathe I&rsquom Hungry

Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole

Everyone loves this quick & easy recipe with 1 net carb that uses only 7 simple ingredients & is ready in 20 minutes! Get the recipe on Wholesome Yum

Need More Keto Recipes? You Have Options!

I&rsquove lost 100 pounds on the keto diet and maintained that weight loss for six years &ndash these meal plans and recipes helped me a TON.

The Essential Keto Cookbook is filled with 100 amazing low carb recipes &ndash and you can get it free &ndash all you have to do is pay shipping and handling.:)

Shout Out To Tastaholics Weekly Meal Plans &Keto In Five cookbooks!

About the weekly meal plans &ndash Tastaholics will send you pre-calculated, low carb meal plans and recipes right into your inbox &ndash no more hunting down recipes on the internet and trying to fit them together perfectly every day.

They make the keto diet easy &ndash for real. And you can try it totally free right here

Or &ndash opt for the Keto In Five &ndash (These Are Not your Grandmother&rsquos Cookbooks-You Can download Them To Any device!)

Each collection offers 30 breakfasts, 30 lunches, 30 dinners & 30 desserts with only five ingredients & 5 net carbs! They provide all the macro info for you &ndash which makes life so much easier!

Go ahead & try the meal plans or grab the Keto In Five Bundle! You&rsquove got nothing to lose, but weight. They offer a 365 Day money-back guarantee, but you won&rsquot need it:) Ok &ndash sales pitch over:)

Don&rsquot Miss These Keto Recipes!

40 Easy Keto Ground Beef Recipes

35 Keto Casseroles That Will Save Your Sanity & Budget On The Keto Diet

21 Make Ahead Keto Freezer Meals That Make Life On Keto Easier

35 Of the Best Keto Mexican Recipes

21 Ways To Save Money On The Keto Diet

Don&rsquot Forget To Save These Keto Family Dinner Recipes!

About Heather Burnett

Hey! Thanks for sticking around. I started this blog to help people like you take control of your health, achieve your fitness goals, lose weight, and gain the confidence you need to go out and live life to the fullest. (Because that's what losing 100 pounds did for me:) I will help you eat clean, shed the shame with the pounds, and become the bad-ass beauty you already are!


This Kitchen Spot Is the Key to Happiness, According to One Expert

I recently learned about the Flylady. She’s the character version of Marla Cilley, whose site Flylady offers cleaning and organizing advice with a lot of positive, empowering messaging to keep you motivated. And one thing she firmly believes in is if you can make your kitchen sink sparkle, you will feel accomplished and motivated to keep the rest of your home under control.

And she has a very detailed 12-step plan for the first time you clean your sink. You can read the full tutorial here, but it involves bleach, a butter knife, powdered cleanser, Windex, and dental floss.

See the steps: Shining Your Sink at Flylady

Although it sounds kind of out there, you have to admit that there’s something deeply satisfying about cleaning the heck out of an area you didn’t even realize was all that dirty! Scraping built-up debris from around the faucet, buffing and drying the surface until it really shines — that’s fun! And she’s on to something, because, despite being 12 steps, it honestly doesn’t take that long, and once you’ve done the deep-clean, it’s about maintenance.

I have to admit that until recently, I wasn’t even aware that the kitchen sink needed all that much attention. Since learning it can harbor more germs than a toilet bowl, I’ve made an effort to give it a scrub every now and then. But Flylady’s not talking about germs — she’s talking about that feeling of getting one thing done well, seeing the results, and feeling empowered to take on the next task. It’s the same theory as making your bed each morning: If you wake up to a sparkling kitchen sink from the night before — especially as opposed to a sink full of dirty dishes — your opening thought is along the lines of “I got this.”

So I did it. Not the full 12 steps, but way more than my usual swipe across the surface, and definitely including the Windex. I was impressed with the amount of debris hidden under the ledge of the countertop, and with the sheen I got from the Windex. It certainly motivated me to put away the dishes that were drying on the countertop, which I usually let sit for at least a day or two. Then I ran around the kitchen and decluttered the countertops.

Our less-involved method: How To Clean Your Kitchen Sink

The next morning, I admit, it was really nice to wake up to a clean, empty sink, and clean, empty countertops to boot. So nice that it’s been four nights in a row that I’ve cleaned the sink before bed. I might be an officially converted Flybaby, in Cilley’s blogspeak.

What do you think — will you try it?

Ayn-Monique is a lifestyle editor and writer who's worked for Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, FamilyFun and more. She loves lattes, jogging and hanging out at the playground with her husband and daughters.